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The performance began with the lights completely off, leaving only a keyboard and a violin under a dim spotlight. There were no formal introductions or polite bows preceding the opening act. A member of the group, in a T-shirt and jeans, simply invited the audience to sit back and enjoy the semester's first performance by Fermata, a student-led classical music group created last semester.

Fermata performed Saturday night at the Underground in the Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center. The performance was deliberately unconventional. There were no familiar pieces by Beethoven, procedural formalities or even tickets. Instead, the Underground was filled with friends, casual conversations and new music being showcased for the first time. The performance featured five original pieces: "Jungle Pigeon" composed by Jack Boeglin '12, "String Quartet" by Ben Kutner '14, a Herald senior staff writer, "Finding" by Nash Rochman '13, "Greenwood" by Alex Stix-Brunell '13.5 and "Gronch" by Emily Chiu '14 and Liam Hynes '12.

Katie Parker '14, vice president of the club, said Fermata's composers are influenced by the genres of jazz, hip-hop and classical music. Fermata performs pieces composed by students with a wide range of musical taste and talent. This makes the performance interestingly "complicated and unconventional," she said.

The student composers had different inspirations for their pieces. "Greenwood" is a calm and serene piece that was inspired by light and reflection, Stix-Brunell said. After writing his piece, it was a refreshing experience to see his music interpreted and performed by student musicians, he added.

Rochman, who composed "Finding" — a work performed by four saxophone players ­— described it as the "newest-sounding" performance. When composing his piece, he tried to find "the right balance between familiarity and inventiveness," he added. 

"His music has various styles and themes that were combined in a very unique way," said Sam Rosenfeld '12, who played the alto saxophone for Rochman's piece.

Many of the performers expressed excitement at having been able to work with composers during rehearsals. It makes a "huge difference" to have a composer explain original ideas and inspirations behind the music, said Alec Kacew '14, who played the cello in "Greenwood."  

Eileen Kim '11, who played the violin, said practicing and performing as a group "definitely brings people together at a personal level." Knowing the composers personally as friends, she said it was interesting to see how their personalities were reflected in the music.

Both performers and the audience enjoyed the overall casual atmosphere. The Underground "opens up classical music for more people and presents it in a less reserved way," Rosenfeld said. One of the goals of the group is to introduce classical music to young musicians and audience, Stix-Brunell added.

After the performance, Emily Polk '14, a former Herald copy editor, said she was impressed that all the pieces were composed by students, which made her better able to relate to the music. 

Despite not being a huge classical music fan, Audrey Davis '14 said the performance felt more modern and enjoyable than most classical music.

Fermata will have its second performance of the semester in April in the Underground.




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